Vernon Search and Rescue assisted three stuck snowmobilers on Hunters Range east of Enderby Jan. 3, 2021. (VSAR - Contributed)

Vernon Search and Rescue assisted three stuck snowmobilers on Hunters Range east of Enderby Jan. 3, 2021. (VSAR - Contributed)

Outdoor enthusiasts warned to be prepared in North Okanagan backcountry

The North Okanagan RCMP, Vernon Search and Rescue provides word of caution

Backcountry enthusiasts in the North Okanagan are cautioned to go prepared when heading off the beaten path.

Prompted by recent rescue incidents, the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP and Vernon Search and Rescue issued a reminder Saturday, Jan. 9, to anyone venturing into the backcountry to leave a plan at home with a family member or friend, among other steps to ensure backcountry safety.

As of Friday (Jan. 8), there have been four local incidents involving lost, stranded or injured people that required police or search and rescue assistance. VSAR was called to Hunters Range near Enderby on both Jan. 2 and 3 to assist snowmobilers.

Another callout was made on Jan. 5, when Central Okanagan Search and Rescue helped police locate a person in medical distress in the Fintry area of Westside Road — this while VSAR, who normally would respond to the Fintry area, was preoccupied with a search for a stranded snowmobiler in the Lumby area.

We are incredibly fortunate to have these professional, dedicated, highly skilled volunteers with the training and capabilities they do, in our communities, said Const. Chris Terleski, North Okanagan RCMP media relations officer. If you need them, they will come, but those venturing into the backcountry are ultimately responsible for their own safety and by not taking any undue risks, and by being properly prepared, they can reduce the incidents of needing SAR.

READ MORE: Helicopter rescues injured snowmobiler near Enderby

Being properly prepared reduces the risks of backcountry travel, and means planning ahead. A sudden change in weather conditions or an unexpected event could turn a simple hike into a rescue situation.

The RCMP provided some tips for backcountry travel, which include leaving a plan at home, planning activities within your ability and seeking education about the terrain and training opportunities before heading out.

“Never go alone, stick together, and remember, those who go ahead or fall behind are more likely to get lost,” the Jan. 9 RCMP press release states.

Be sure to bring the essentials with you:

  • Light
  • Signalling device: whistle, flare, mirror
  • Fire starter
  • Warm clothes
  • Pocket knife
  • Shelter/emergency blanket
  • Water and food
  • First aid kit appropriate for the activity
  • Compass/GPS for navigation
  • Communications – Do not rely entirely on your cellphone, consider having a Garmin inReach, SPOT, or other satellite communication device
  • If you are heading into avalanche terrain, plan ahead and check www.avalanche.ca for current snow conditions. Taking an avalanche awareness course or Avalanche Level 1 course is strongly recommended.
  • Each member in a group should have a probe, shovel, and transceiver/beacon. Be proficient in their use prior to going out; a stressful or life threatening situation is not the time to figure it out.

“When you realize you are lost or in trouble, it is best to stay in place. We teach the children to hug a tree. The same goes for adults. It keeps everyone safe and reduces the search area,” said VSAR spokesperson Coralie Nairn. “A great free resource is the AdventureSmart.ca, they have a free Trip Plan App that aids policing and SAR units.”

If all else fails, never be afraid to call for help.

“Double check your gear, then check it again. Taking these steps can greatly reduce the amount of time it may take rescuers to locate you in an emergency, which could be significant in a life or death situation,” added Terleski.

For more backdoor safety information, visit Adventuresmart.ca.

READ MORE: Snowmobilers rescued near Enderby

READ MORE: Funds sought for Okanagan man seriously injured in snowmobile accident


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

RCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a single-vehicle rollover Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
Vehicle rollover closes Vernon road

Vehicle flipped onto its side, closing road

Vernon's Noric House long-term care facility is dealing with an influenza outbreak amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)
Two more deaths at Vernon care home

Noric House case numbers remain steady, but death toll rises

A petition to spare the Mount Rose Swanson area from logging later this year has eclipsed 21,000 signatures as of Jan. 20, 2021. (Rose Swanson Mountain/Facebook)
Controversial logging will cut 4% of ‘sensitive’ Armstrong forest area: Ministry

A petition to spare the Rose Swanson area from logging has eclipsed 21,000 signatures

Vernon firefighters douse a fire inside a cardboard bin behind the Shops at Polson off Highway 6 Wednesday, Jan. 20. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
PHOTOS: Dumpster fire behind Vernon shopping mall

Vernon Fire Rescue Services respond doused recycling bin fire backing onto Polson Park

The BC SPCA is adapting its fundraising after cancelling events due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
BC SPCA gets creative with fundraising as pandemic continues

The non-profit’s in-person fundraising events all had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions

Penticton city council heard from Dhorea Ramanula, of Paid Employment for People with Lived Experiences Tuesday, Jan. 19. Ramanula’s organization has operated public washrooms in Kelowna staffed by community support workers since April, she says Penticton could benefit from a similar facility. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)
Penticton interested in new public washroom concept to combat vandalism

Public washrooms with on-site support staff have been operating in Kelowna since April

Canada Post had remove a lot of letter boxes around Penticton after they were vandalized. This letter box at the United Church on Main St. remains unscathed. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Street mailbox vandals strike Penticton drop boxes

Canada Post had to remove a bunch of the vandalized units

Esa Carriere, 23, was the victim of a 2018 Canada Day homicide. (File)
Youth sentenced in Kelowna Canada Day killing

Young woman pleaded guilty to lesser assault charge, sentenced to 15-month intensive support and supervision program

A rendering of UBC’s planned downtown Kelowna campus. (Contributed)
Kelowna’s new downtown campus to help alleviate UBCO’s space crunch

The sizable development is anticipated to be completed by the fall 2024 semester

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Most Read